Columbus, Ohio: Today, Georgetown University Center for Children and Families released a report showing that more children under the age of 6 in Ohio are uninsured and are falling through the cracks in the state’s Medicaid program. Ohio stands out on nearly every measure trending in the wrong direction in the report, titled “Nation’s Youngest Children Lose Health Coverage at an Alarming Rate.” The rate of uninsured Ohio 0-6 year olds went from 3.6% in 2016 to 5% in 2018, reversing a longstanding positive trend. Ohio increased from 29,820 to 41,642 uninsured 0-6 year olds, a 39.6% change over the course of only two years. “This trend is deeply disturbing because we know children experience rapid brain development during the earliest years of life, before they start kindergarten,” said Shannon Jones, Executive Director of Groundwork Ohio. “We have a critical and narrow window of time to build a healthy foundation for development, intervene to address any delays and health conditions and prevent greater challenges later in life,” Jones continued. “Health coverage is a crucial first step in providing this preventive health care for Ohio’s youngest children.” While Ohio and the nation’s rate and number of uninsured young children increased significantly during this time period, Ohio’s rate of uninsured children is higher than the national rate (5% to 4.3%). Additionally, more than half of the nation’s uninsured children under 6 reside in seven states including Ohio, which is home to 4.1% of these young children. Historically, young children across the nation have been less likely to be uninsured compared to school-aged children. This is no longer true in Ohio where the 5% rate now exceeds the 4.7% rate for school- aged children. “Uninsured young children may go to the hospital in a crisis, but they aren’t regularly attending visits to the pediatrician’s office,” said Melissa Wervey Arnold, CEO Ohio Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics. “These well-child visits and other preventive care are the first and best opportunity we have to engage parents and caregivers as partners in their child’s health and well-being before school begins.”
“With nearly half of Ohio’s children receiving health care coverage through Medicaid, we have to examine these trends from a Medicaid lens,” said Nick Lashutka, President and CEO of the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association. “We look forward to partnering with Governor DeWine on ways to enhance children’s health care coverage and access.”
“Groundwork Ohio is committed to investigating the symptoms and causes of these startling trends and promoting targeted Medicaid policies and practices that encourage the enrollment of young children,” said Jones. “We have to hold all stakeholders including health plans accountable to our shared vision for young children in this state.”
To learn more about the report findings and hear from national and state experts, including Shannon Jones, Executive Director of Groundwork Ohio, register here to join Georgetown University Center for Children and Families for a webinar today at 2:00pm.
Radio actuality from Jones is available here. Jones is also available for media interviews.
Georgetown University Center for Children and Families is an independent, nonpartisan policy and research center founded in 2005 with a mission to expand and improve high- quality, affordable coverage for America’s children and families.
Groundwork Ohio is a committed, nonpartisan public-policy research and advocacy organization formed in 2004 that champions high-quality early learning and healthy development strategies from the prenatal period to age five, that lay a strong foundation for Ohio kids, families and communities.